You heard it here first folks. Ok, maybe you’ve already heard it in the pre-election hubbub. And either way, it’s certainly no surprise. But here’s the skinny, just in case: The out-of-state oil biggies Valero and Tesoro have poured $4.5 million into funding Proposition 23, a ballot initiative that would repeal AB 32, California’s precedent-setting bipartisan law to reduce carbon emissions and build a cleaner economy. Those same oil companies have been some of the state’s most egregious air polluters according to a report from the Ella Baker Center and CEJA. Tesoro and Valero’s refinery operations near LA and San Francisco annually produce hundreds of thousands of pounds of toxic chemicals, including ammonia, sulfuric acid, lead compounds, asbestos, and vanadium. Their toxic practices have repeatedly violated California law in the past couple years alone.
So what are they up to? Specifically, the language of Proposition 23 puts AB 32 on hold until California’s unemployment rate dips to 5.5% or below for four consecutive quarters. To put that in context, our unemployment rate has only met that condition three times in the past three decades. Meanwhile, green job growth has been one of the sole areas of optimism as statewide unemployment hovers north of twelve percent. Make no mistake, Prop 23 would effectively nullify AB 32 and its economic and environmental benefits.
That doesn’t just hurt Californians. AB 32 has served as a rare model of real-world carbon legislation for other policymakers including our own federal government. Its demise would have national and international implications in the fight against climate change.
When it comes time to vote in November, a resounding “no” on Prop 23 will tell those big polluters to get their money-grubbing hands off California environmental policy.
There is no shortage of ways to learn more and get involved in the meantime. A couple suggestions: the Clean Economy Network recently held a webinar on the subject and may continue to do so. And our friends at the Union of Concerned Scientists are urging folks to raise awareness by partying against the prop.
It’s going to be a tough battle. But as recent events in Congress have shown, we need states to take the lead on the job of transitioning to a clean energy economy needs – or it just might not get done at all.
Vote Solar is a non-profit grassroots organization working to fight climate change and foster economic opportunity by bringing solar energy into the mainstream.